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back to article Senators to NASA: Get your ass to Mars

NASA lacks a clear vision for the future of US human spaceflight, US Senators told the space agency's chief on Wednesday. A Senate science subcommittee clashed with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden over President Barack Obama's proposed 2011 budget, which effectively kills the previous administration's goal of returning to the …

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Megaphone

Robots are the future

Sure, NASA needs a program to put personnel into orbit - that's easy enough to do that the risks and added costs don't outweigh the advantages. But robots are the only thing that makes sense when you get to planetary travel for research purposes. Putting a man on Mars would be a colossal waste of money.

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No.

Robots are better for taking photos from orbit, but you need boots on the ground to do any serious geology.

We'd learn far more from even one manned mission and the half ton of rock samples it could bring back, than from all the probes landed over the past 35 years.

And I would like to live to see it.

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Robots are cheap

@Anonymous John

And the cost of putting one man on Mars would be higher than the combined cost of all the probes sent over the last 35 years. The interest cost alone of a single manned mision could fund robotic exploration indefinitely.

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WTF?

Now this is FUNNY

When GWB wanted to go to the Moon & Mars, it was "we're not fundin' that boondoggle!!!!!111111oneoneone" from congress.

Now Obama wants to cut out the romantic crap and try to put up some lasting infrastructure to support something more than flash-in-the-pan "flag & footprints" missions, and he catches hell for "not having a vision"

Of course, it's all about pork & jobs. You mentioned Vitter losing jobs in Michoud, and I should say Bill Nelson faces losing jobs at Kennedy Space Center.

The main reason Constellation used existing SRB & external tank parts is to keep people like Vitter happy. Not for any technical reason. As a matter of fact, using the SRB was considered really dangerous, as solids have very dramatic failure modes.

Unfortunately for Vitter, he's got a rep for talking out his ass: see http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2010/02/senators-attack-on-nasa-deputy-chief-lori-garver-backfires.html

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Grenade

Where was he when New Orleans needed help?

Or did he get a "You're doing a heck of a job Davie" as well. He knows less about rockets than dealing with Acts of Dog.

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You don't do more with less...

You do less with less. No funding, no mission and hence no clear vision of the future. But then a bunch of silver spoon sucking, Wall Street Wealth distribution funded, wide arse US senators couldn't get that concept even while you tried to beat it into their iron skulls with the broad side of an oak 2x4.

Our masters of the unfunded mandate are able to blow plenty of hot air, but get pretty limp when it comes to actually making anything happen.

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Oh, FFS!

The US government really have no clue, do they? Give NASA a truckload of money, not these meagre little handfuls of pocket change, tell them "Go do something awesome" then STAND THE HELL BACK. Stop moving the goalposts all the time. "Go here! No, don't go there any more go over here instead! Wait, why are you going that way, didn't we tell you over here the first time?" NASA needs resources and a lot less micro-management.

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How about no...

NASA can have more money once every US citizen has health care.

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Health care...

Every US citizen can have health care when you all rise up and demand an end to public military pork projects.

In other words: good luck with that.

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Grenade

nonsense

I have health care because I got off my ass and got a job. I would much rather see a few guys looking for green women on mars than spend a single penny on shite health care for a bunch of lazy jackoffs that can't be bothered to try for themselves.

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We all have heath care in the EU

Amazing what you can do when you don't squander your money on the military.

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Anonymous Coward

whaaaaat?

"NASA isn't likely to have the necessary technology for at least a decade."

We have the necessary technology now.

Space is big, space does not care what shape/size your vehicle is (look at the space station, not exactly aerodynamic)

(in a nutshell)

To get to mars:

Ship: Build over a short time, in space, out of pieces you would bring up inside the shuttle. Once in space, the size/shape will not matter so make it a square if you want. Be sure to include a "docking" bay for your ship you use to get up / down on earth/mars. Ship must be double hulled.

Engine: Use standard engines/varient of system used to get to mars to get out off earth and into orbit, ship you build in space will be ion driven. Less fuel needed / with buildup you can get up to about 10x faster then conventional engines. (hence the "docking bay")

Food/water: Use a few trips earlier to take up your food and water and place it your ship.

Radiation protection: Double hulled ship, fill the space between with water or hydrogen. Alternativly ship can also be built to use an "electrostatic shield" for protection.

To land on mars: Use a standard shuttle initially to get to larger ship in earth orbit, however use a ship based on what was originally used for moon missions to get to your larger ship. Use a varient of the "lunar lander" such as was used on the moon, with chemical propulsion to land on mars and to get off.

Varient: Using the same type of "lunar lander" as used on the moon could be covered in "pillow inflation units" like those used to land the probes on mars, however this may be iffy on landing right side up. Little fuel to land needed.

To get off mars: Well pretty simple since you would be using a varient of the "lunar lander" you would use the chemical propellant in the lander to get off of mars.

Once off mars, redock with the larger ship, use ion drive for trip back.

Now this could theoretically require a few years to get to mars, however there has been some debate on this since ion engines, while not being useful for "planet to space" , once they are in place they are fairly good, but require a slow buildup to get to maximum speed.

Sources:

Ion engine: http://nmp.nasa.gov/ds1/tech/ionpropfaq.html

Shielding: http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/rad_shield_040527.html

This is of course a very basic outline, so feel free to add what YOU would use for any problems that you see.

Maybe a bunch of people who are NOT rocket scientist can come up with a viable plan.

LOL

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Politicians..

"Maybe a bunch of people who are NOT rocket scientist can come up with a viable plan."

The problem isn't the rocket scientists, it's the politicians.

They say to NASA "Do this" but don't give the money. When a review says "NASA can't do it, forget it" the politicians then complain.

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Naaaaah

>>We have the necessary technology now.

I really want to say something other than "you're a cock", but I'm struggling.

#1 Less than half of the current mars missions make it there, we can live with this for unmanned craft, but is this acceptable for unmanned craft?

#2 To build something as big as a space shuttle (including boosters etc.) in space would have taken every single space shuttle mission ever made so far, don't forget, you can't carry as much "stuff" if you need to leave low earth orbit.

#3 Ion drives should be smaller/lighter, but don't forget they accelerate/decelerate very slowly so while 10x speeds may be possible you'll only be accelerating half the time there so you don't save much time over all.

#4 Landing on mars would still take a huge amount of fuel, it has an atmosphere (i.e. friction) and the gravity on mars is 3x that of the moon so "a varient of the lunar lander" is about as useful as saying "a flying machine" and "little fuel is needed" is just pulled out of your arse.

#5 Getting off mars would also need a large amount of fuel (for the same reasons as #4), and don't forget this fuel has to be taken all the way to mars and down there too, not only does this mean getting down is harder but the inital weight of the fuel has to be take up too.

Is your name "wallice" and do you have a dog called "gromet"?

So, no, lets leave rocket science to the rocket scientists, because your "focus magazine", back of the fag packet science is just science fiction.

The best we could hope for right now is a mission where the astros woudn't likely come back, cost billions and learn nothing (apart from "don't do it again"), let's put common sense and science to one side for a moment and say it could happen, how long could people actually stay on the surface? lunar missions have at most managed about 75 hours, so unless you're sending (and landing) an entire mechanically constructed biosphere or building an even more unfeasably large "varient of the lunar lander" you'll have months and months of travel for a few hours stay, at best.

A mars mission is like burning $100 bills to keep warm instead of paying your gas bill.

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Happy

@No, I will not fix your computer

"I really want to say something other than "you're a cock", but I'm struggling.

#1 Less than half of the current mars missions make it there, we can live with this for unmanned craft, but is this acceptable for unmanned craft?"

<Plenty of fine work with a clue stick>

However AC does have a *very* slight point and your estimates are a bit off.

A full Shuttle stack (Orbiter, tank , SRBs) weighs about 4 000 000 lb. Orbiter payload is roughly 55000 lb, so to orbit the equivalent mass to the whole system would take about 73 launches. So far *all* shuttles have notched up c200 launches.

Repeated efforts have been made to get NASA to consider using one of those discarded ET's as a space station, as the H2 tank is *huge*. At MECO, just before ET jettison the ET is no more than 10s of ms^-1 from having orbital velocity on its own. A few semi-empty flights could get some tanks into orbit with hardware to protect their insulation and harness them together.

Launching the propellant to re-fuel them is another matter, although there are certainly enough SSME's left to get it moving once loaded. The EELV's have about a 50 000 Lb payload to LEO, needing 31 launches.

Big numbers, but not impossible. The question is what payload would you get to mars for this effort. Your right that it is probably not a lot. Landing and take off on Mars would be tough. Enough atmosphere to destroy an Apollo type lander, no where near enough to support a shuttle (and whose going to build the 5000ft runway it needs). OTOH a landing (or strictly speaking a docking) with one of its moons (one of the options of the Augustine commission) would me much more feasible, probably quit informative and put scientists a *lot* closer to being on site for remote control of RPVs.

Regarding reliability with crew on board who can fix stuff the odds of loss of mission are IMHO substantially increased. It's *more* likely they will finish the mission, not less.

The real long pole is life support. it takes a *hell* of a lot of ready meals to get to mars and back. Without closed cycle regeneration (under study by ESA) long duration space flight sending humans anywhere in the solar system is a non-starter. In order of technology readiness I'd say the options are 1)closed cycle life support 2) nuclear powered something or other 3) Sticking the crew on long term heart/lung machines (very Gerry Anderson, but the length of time surgeons can keep a patient alive with 90% of their blood supply stored in a tank is getting longer).

The other issue is NASA's pathological desire to avoid *any* kind of construction in space and its performance uber alles culture. Good enough is *never* good enough. The new glove design that won their recent deisgn competition should help the former, but the latter is a way bigger problem.

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Stop

@ "No, I will not fix your computer" ...

..."The best we could hope for right now is a mission where the astros woudn't likely come back," Possibly, but if that is acknowledged from the outset, there are probably hundreds of people who would sign up anyway. I would put my name in the hat for a one-way trip to Mars as soon as nominations opened!

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Senator whines gravy train is hittting the buffers

NASA has 11 centers operating in rather fewer states. There may well be bipartisan support in *those* states, but rather less so that in others.

Bottom line if these guys were *so* interested in keeping their states site open they should have had a word with their (more numerous) counterparts in Congress. The people who didn't vote the budget NASA thought necessary to carry out the "Vision." It's the Augustine commission that stated the current budget was insufficient to deliver the goals and either it should be raised to do the work NASA has been asked to do or the project dropped.

Basically The Senate and Congress should put up or shut up (although I know *just* how much trouble politicians have doing the latter).

As for throwing cash at private industry the *whole* COTS package is c$500m and to date funded 3 developer teams (2 originals and 1 new 2nd round entry, when the team of ex-NASA staff spunked away c$150m on *top* of the $950m from various VC backers and *still* could not *complete* a single flight vehicle) while 1 team has already managed 4 launches and is well on its way to completing a man-rateable capsule.

NASA blew at *least* $1bn on the *multiple* re-designs of the space station during the 1980s.

Thumbs down to the Senators for bitching that NASA won't deliver their dreams, especially when they raid its budget with earmarks for projects which have *nothing* to do with space*

Thumbs up to Bolden for standing his ground.

*And they have. Historically the biggest section of "Earmark" funding has come from the DoD and NASA budgets, as El Reg has reported. The Dupont DP2 aircraft project was kept afloat for *decades* without *any* formal US Govt funding (and no obvious private backing at all) *solely* by earmark funding, despite *every* formal evaluation of the design saying it was a POS.

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Sign the petition...

THere is still time to make a difference: http://www.tychotics.com/

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WTF?

Citizens can buy health care today, but can't buy a trip to the moon or mars...

So tell me - what should the United States Federal Government be spending money on???

Doing something that the U.S. already has (the U.S. has Universal Health Care today) or doing something that individual U.S. citizens can not do today (i.e. serious space travel to the moon or mars)???

No brainer here... the U.S. Federal Government should put the resources where individual citizens can not do today!!!

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Citizens can...

I'm sure there's no law against you personally financing a manned space program.

Oh, it costs too much. Ah, well that doesn't mean it isn't "universal".

Oh, it does. Well, you might want to reconsider your statement about healthcare, then.

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Stop

Closing the ISS in 2015 would be short-sighted.

And unnecessary as there are other space agencies around the world today which would probably not be happy to see all that investment burning up in the Earth's atmosphere so soon. (ESA, Japan, etc.) These organisations could easily take over the "burden" of maintaining a manned space station.

However..

Upgrading the ISS to include construction facilities for habitation modules and the like would be a much more logical choice. All you would then need to do is send up the components and have them built in space. No need to lift it all off the ground all using just one expensive—and inherently risky—giant firework.

The ISS is already there. It is trivially extensible (by space exploration standards anyway). It would make far more sense to consider it an asset than a liability. The Russian Soyuz kit can keep it supplied with people and parts. The US can therefore concentrate on the bit between LEO, the Moon and, eventually, Mars.

Smaller, more economical booster technology would be just fine. A "Son of Shuttle" might even be justifiable (as an international project) too.

(Of course, I might just be talking bollocks. I'm no expert on this stuff.)

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Grenade

If we can't maintain a permanent space station...

Instead of letting billions of dollars of equipment and effort fall flaming back to earth in 2015, then we don't really belong in space anyway. Keeping ISS up and running long term is a prerequisite to understanding and maintaining a long term mission like the Mars Mission. If you can't do one successfully which is only 400 miles from earth, you darn well are not going to keep astronauts alive long enough to put a boot on Mars on the other.

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BolBoldenly going where no-one's gone before

"Vision without resources is a hallucination."

Bolden isn't wrong, but it's a bitter pill. For decades the Senate and Congress gave NASA just enough money to keep people in their constituencies employed, but never enough to achieve its goals, whether they were a better Shuttle, a new launch vehicle, the original ISS design, or a chance of actually getting to the Moon or Mars in our lifetimes.

Obama and Bolden have called their bluff, and they don't like it. Earth orbit is going to be a private enterprise and NASA's goal should be travelling beyond that. What Bolden should do is define a clear set of goals for achieving that which will spur both commercial spaceflight and research into interplanetary flight

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Alien

Damned if they do...

...damned if they don't. ISTR Congress made lots of noises about what a waste of money NASA was when they *did* have specific objectives (killed off the last 3 moon landings for starters).

Mind you, NASA has become too big and unwieldy in any case.

ET because, well, obvious innit?

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I wish...

...he had just turned around and said, "hey we had the vision, but you guys didnt turn up with the money either under the bush administration or under the current one, so deal with it... Give us the ACTUAL money and we'll deliver you to Mars..."

But i suppose having a spine would be too much to ask from a beauracrat...

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Anonymous Coward

@amanfrommars

They're coming to get you!

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Like it

(in an appropriately Austrian accent) "get your ass to mars"

Just me? Really??

IGMC

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Coat

In these troubled times.

In my view the USA has two paths it should follow;

Stop being the world police and get yourselves in order, this will entail, amongst other things, stopping most space research and work. Spend the money instead on getting your economy back into a healthy state and stop your poisonous society dragging the rest of the world down with you.

And

Become once again the inspiration of the world - take bold steps and give your people, and the rest of the world a goal which everyone can understand and get behind. Don't send one person to Mars, just to bring them back - work towards setting up a self-supporting colony there or on the moon, or a space elevator, or space solar-collectors for everyone, or a space habitat like an O'Neill cylinder or torus.

If ever there was a US president that could equal JFK's Apollo speech then it would be Obama, and I feel it's that sort of leadership that the world needs.

Ok, Ok, I'll stop and get my coat - mines the one with 'The High Frontier' in the pocket.

ttfn

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USA

>>Stop being the world police

When have the USA ever been "world police"? they send in the troops whenever their oil supply is threatened. WW2 they were making plenty of money off Germany by selling bonds etc. and lending money to the UK (which only recently has been paid back) Japan dragged them into the war, note the US declared war against Japan, not Germany, it was later that Germany declared war against the US.

>>Become once again the inspiration of the world

Oh the US is very inspirational, it's bringing people together, there's this new country called "the rest of the world", we even have our own flag, it's like theirs, but it's on fire*

First man in space was cool, but not amazing as people saw it as just "being very high up", first man on the moon was mega cool as they stopped and got out, first man on mars will not be as cool as first man on the moon, although it would be technically amazing, several factors of 10 harder than a moon landing, but people don't realise this, so it won't be seen as that cool, will it inspire anybody? certainly not to the same degree as the moon program.

Who can remember the first day in space? First full year in space? First manned space station? First woman in space? First spacewalk? First woman to do a spacewalk? First two-man spacecraft? first three-man spacecraft? all of these were fantastic achievements but how inspiring were they? do you even remember that these were all Russian achievments? there have been 22 Russians who have spent over a year in space, but only three Americans (one was half British and another only just did it by about 16 hours).

America has made many great achievements, but propaganda is what it's really good at, and mars just costs too much for so little a reward, Obama knows this, he won't send men to mars, because he has more important things to spend his peoples money on.

*Joke, shamelessly stolen from Robert Newman, check out "History of oil".

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History Lesson

To be clear: Japan declared war on the USA first, in concert with bombing attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Phillipines (then a US colony). If you read the actual December 8, 1941 US declaration by FDR, it simply recognizes that a state of war already exists. Italy and then Germany carried out their treaty obligations to Japan and declared war on the USA on December 11, 1941. The USA then responded to those two declarations. So what's your point?

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Taking lessons?

OK, so one one hand they cut the funding and canceled Ares/Constellation, but now they're saying they still expect NASA to get to Mars or the Moon.

Have this lot been taking lessons from the UK government? Because its the same sort of thinking and economics they apply to our armed forces!

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Congress vs. President

The President has proposed a budget which cancels Constellation. Congress has not yet approved the budget and might choose to reinstate the programme. Obama has said he will veto the revised budget if they do so.

But as many commentators above have said, this is a problem with a series of administrations and congresses who have kept chopping and changing NASA's mission whilst starving it of the money needed to engage in a long term project. NASA needs more money ring-fenced for these grand projects, but not just manned missions - it's time to go back to the Outer Solar System and start looking at those moons. We have nothing orbiting Jupiter looking at Europa and we should be seriously considering another probe to Saturn with the intention of seeing what the hell is going on down on Enceladus.

Let's have some of the excitement of the 1960s - yes it was expensive, but look at the advances America made in so many technological fields, look at the generation of engineers and scientists it spurred and look how much good will America garnered around the World. If America wants to be admired it needs something like an Apollo for the 21st Century.

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Happy

@Mike Richards

"Let's have some of the excitement of the 1960s - yes it was expensive, "

Keep in mind it was about beating the Russians.

"but look at the advances America made in so many technological fields, "

Sadly rather more to do with NASA's excellent PR and various US firms keen to be associated with the space programme. Look up the Parker space pen nonsense.

"look at the generation of engineers and scientists it spurred and look how much good will America garnered around the World. "

Now this is more to the point. Not only did it give a generation of engineers experience of a cutting edge environment where *nothing* could be taken for granted (always good training IMHO) but it inspired at least 1 further generation as well.

"If America wants to be admired it needs something like an Apollo for the 21st Century."

Countries can be admired as much for what they *don't* do as for what they do. South Africa shutting down its nuclear weapons programme for example. AFAIK "Getting America to be admired" is not actually part of NASA's operating charter. OTOH the work of people like SpaceX and XCOR Aerospace may inspire a new generation in other ways. However there needs to be some basic interest there in the first place to inspire.

And that's a whole different question.

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not just you...

I was really _really_ hoping Arnie might have said this in the chamber.

Heh heh

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Gates Halo

Isn't it passed time...

...we had that one world government thing. What's the hold up China? Ditch the 1984 communism and take over the world already.

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Bah!

things NASA makes possible that The Man In T' Street and the Congressmen on their Seats never seem to think about, possibly due to lack of the required equipment:

GPS - no satellites, no SATNAV toys. Wait, what?

Cable TV. No satellites, no Playboy channel. Wait, what?

Cell Phones. No satellites, no interminable pointless, zero-content, loud conversations ruining my commute. Wait, what?

Weather. Bad as it is it beats driving a fleet into a typhoon and then having to guess which way the storm is going (and getting it wrong). No satellites, no pretty pictures of hurricanes on the six o'clock news. (Actually, I understand the US gets a great deal of that info from a French satellite. Yes, the cheese-scarfing surrender monkeys can do something the US of A can't. Wait, what?

And for the same crew that stood at the helm while the mighty ship of state was wrecked on the easily visible rocks of financial fiasco to use the phrase "lack of vision" calls for immediate deployment of the cat o' nine tails followed by a salt 'n' vinegar rub-down.

What a bunch of venal, microphone-hungry *&^%ers.

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Grenade

Mmm, salt 'n vinegar...

I'd just love to hear them scream. Starting with the Wall Street Wealth Redistribution fiasco. Whilst shouting in their ear, Whilst making it very clear...

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Gold badge

To quote The Right Stuff

No bucks, no Buck Rodgers.

When I started reading science fiction when I was 12 ish, it didn't seem too long in the future until spaceflight might be, if not commonplace, then at least achievable for ordinary mortals. Now I'm approaching 40 and it seems further away, rather than closer.

I guess I'll have to hope that some rocket scientist, with no funding for building rockets, goes off and cures death, so I can live long enough to go to a space hotel. I hope I'm still capable of zero g rumpy-pumpy when I'm 160...

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Alien

Forget Mars get your ass to Europa

Mars is a dead red desert with little (if any) chance of life. NASA should focus their resources on the really exciting places in our Solar System. Europa and Enceladus. Those two moons are expected to have liquid water oceans below the surface. It would be mind blowing if we found large life forms there, not just bacteria, but something resembling our ocean creatures.

Could you image the impact if we sent a probe that tunnelled through the ice on Europa to the liquid water below and returned HD video of alien life.

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Re: Forget Mars get your ass to Europa

"All these worlds are yours - except Europa.

Attempt no landings there."

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Silver badge

Gotta vote no on this.....

Manned missions to Mars are very romantic, but we need to get our public finances under control first. NASA is doing just fine sending up robots to explore and working on advanced aerospace technologies here on earth.

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Actually NASA should focus on LEO for a bit

NASA doesn't have a way to even get into LEO economically, so why should we expect them to go farther? Private industry is not going to build anything fancier than existing rockets, but NASA could. They could build a launch loop, space teher/elevator, space fountain etc. Once getting into LEO is easy, then going further will be possible.

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Coat

@Bounty

"NASA doesn't have a way to even get into LEO economically, so why should we expect them to go farther?"

Quite true. This might have something to do with NASA's unstated objectives that any launch system retains nearly *all* their existing staff and infrastructure, which are one of the *major* causes of those costs.

"Private industry is not going to build anything fancier than existing rockets,"

You presume that something "fancier" is needed to lower the cost to LEO *substantially.* This suggests you know very little about the cost breakdown or design process involved in producing a launch system. Hint. It was worked out in the 1960s that the amount of propellant to move a lb of mass to orbit is equal to the round trip fuel between the US and Australia. The physics has not changed. Some how normal people manage to afford that ticket on a regular basis.

" but NASA could. They could build a launch loop, space tether/elevator, space fountain etc. Once getting into LEO is easy, then going further will be possible."

No. They *could* demonstrate that the technology is feasible, allowing its promoters to raise funding. What has historically happened when a non-NASA launch approach has tried to raise funds is that the funding outfit does "Due diligence," where they approach some "qualified" expert to find out if this is feasible. This "expert" has typically been NASA. The standard answer. "If it was that good, NASA would be doing this." Another non NASA controlled launch system bites the dust.

NASA was created as a near-panic act due to the launch of Sputnik1 by the shotgun marriage of multiple US research centres. As a mature bureaucracy its senior bureaucrats primary objective is to continue to *be* senior bureaucrats. Less Jason Webb (Journey to the far side of the Sun), more Dick Jones (Robocop).

Mine will be the one with "Halfway to anywhere" in 1 pocket and "Lost in Space" in the other.

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PS

here are some projects NASA should be working on.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-rocket_launch

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Flame

Manned mission

Yes, manned missions are inherently risky. But these guys and girls are The Right Stuff - do you think they wouldn't choose to go anyway?

I bet every astronaut who ever died in an accident would have known the risks and TAKEN THEM ANYWAY. All this 'oh we can't put a single life at risk' is just bollocks ... half these people cut their teeth flying experimental aircraft. Nobody moaned about it then. And - in the vanishingly unlikely event that NASA staff don't have balls, then even here at the reg, I'm sure we could assemble an army of volunteers just from amongst us commentards.

We HAVE to go to back to the Moon, and to Mars, and beyond. It is our destiny. Anyone who thinks it isn't has no perspective on human history, no vision and no passion.

</rant>

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Grenade

Re: <rant>

"I bet every astronaut who ever died in an accident would have known the risks and TAKEN THEM ANYWAY"

hehe... 40% of all mars missions have failed, of the 200 planned space shuttle missions only 130 got off the ground, 3 shuttles have been destroyed (admitidly one when a hanger collapsed) so tell a space shuttle astro that there's a 1 in 65 chance you won't make it and they will consider and weigh the risks, tell them there's a 3 in 5 chance they won't make it and and you'd seriously have to question their judgement if they say yes (and I wouldn't want to go on any journey with someone who has that level of deathwish). It's not about finding someone with no thought for their own life (the world is full of 'em, they're not hard to find, hell the US invented MK-Ultra specifically for finding and developing them)

"We HAVE to go to back to the Moon, and to Mars, and beyond. It is our destiny. Anyone who thinks it isn't has no perspective on human history, no vision and no passion."

Give me a HOO RAH!!! OK, some perspective, communication satellites are great, but what does space exploration give us?

"We're over-populated" - Yes, we have BILLIONS too many people on the planet, we will never be able to relocate BILLIONS of people, even if we had the ability to build self sustaining biospheres off planet AND ship people off there, how many? 10? 100? 1000? 10000? this will make no difference as they would be replaced by another 10, 100, 1000, 10000 (and even if it were possible would it be the best use of the money?).

"We need to reach other life" - If life exists outside our solar system (statistically possible I guess), then it's a minimum of 4.2 light-years away, even if we could travel near light speed (may be possible one day, who knows?) then if we get there and it's boring, what do we do? come back? go somewhere else instead? the sheer vastness of space will never be explored by manned craft (I guess we could invent some space compression warp drive, but until then it's pure science fiction) maybe ion driven deep space probes with 50 year round-trip lifetimes could be of benifit but I doubt anything would be robust enough to last.

So, unmanned would be (and is) cool but manned is stupid.

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Happy

@no, I will not fix your computer

"hehe... 40% of all mars missions have failed, of the 200 planned space shuttle missions only 130 got off the ground,

Not so. As for now Shuttle has *launched* 200+ times. However between 1981 and 2000 there were 204 launch *attempts" of which only 50 took off. Shuttle missions now exceed (slightly) the total number of X15 flights (199 total), the 2nd nearest that the US got to a reusable space system.

"3 shuttles have been destroyed (admitidly one when a hanger collapsed) "

Also admittedly in Russia, and a totally different design.

"so tell a space shuttle astro that there's a 1 in 65 chance you won't make it and they will consider and weigh the risks"

At the time of the last crash IIRC the numbers were roughly 1 in 24 or just over 4%. A well established ELVs has hit around 1 in 50 (2%) and with the additional launches since the last failure it's now down to below the ELV level IE <2%.

However I note that an Aerospace Corp study (made IIRC after Challenger) *expected* 3 of the Shuttles to be destroyed during the programme.

When the Shuttle architecture fails it does not fail gracefully.

", tell them there's a 3 in 5 chance they won't make it and and you'd seriously have to question their judgement if they say yes (and I wouldn't want to go on any journey with someone who has that level of deathwish). It's not about finding someone with no thought for their own life (the world is full of 'em, they're not hard to find, hell the US invented MK-Ultra specifically for finding and developing them)"

Flight statistics relate to *flights* not to the number of vehicles *making* those flights.

You might also like to note that Baysian statistics take into account the *history* of a system to get a better idea of what it will do next. A long run of success *suggests* it is more likely to continue than not.

Otherwise nicely ranted. I cannot comment on mars mission success statistics but I would suggest that having several people on board who will die can concentrate the mind quite well.

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Happy

c200 vs c130?

I'm a little confused by your 200+ number, afaik the shuttle missions are all numbered in STS series, the last mission (Feb 8-21st) was STS-130 (the unlaunched rescue missions were STS-3xx and I think an STS-4xx) they also avoided STS-13 because of the previous Apollo-13 mishap.

Am I getting confused between launch and mission?

The story of Buran is astoundingly interesting, one wonders if the Soviets carried on with the program where it would be now, although it's visually very similar, as you say the design was different.

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Happy

@No, I will not fix your cmoputer

'm a little confused by your 200+ number, afaik the shuttle missions are all numbered in STS series, the last mission (Feb 8-21st) was STS-130 (the unlaunched rescue missions were STS-3xx and I think an STS-4xx) they also avoided STS-13 because of the previous Apollo-13 mishap.

I was working from memory of a NASA website which showed Shuttle flights as a grid, hence the 200+ figure as I recalled the X15 programme managed 199 exactly.

I checked the stats here

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/list_main.html

which confirmed 130, giving a 1 in 65 failure rate, or 1.54%. Not bad for current ELVs, but not good by any other kind of crewed transportation system.

Am I getting confused between launch and mission?

No. But NASA has shuffled their number system around at least once.

The story of Buran is astoundingly interesting, one wonders if the Soviets carried on with the program where it would be now, although it's visually very similar, as you say the design was different.

It might have re-shaped their launch programme. they were less inhibited about building structures by docking and the odd bit of EVA

Its *big* difference was the large, high pressure engines stayed on the launcher and were expendable. They are as big as the SSME but were expendable. They also run on H2/O2 and AFAIK a bunch of them are still in storage in the FSU. No doubt available at very reasonable prices.

Without the engines on the back the mass properties are likely to be *very* different, aerodynamics cleaner (less weight -> lower landing speeds) and smaller OMS/RCS engines needed. All substantial wins in terms of complexity. Not to mention being able to run a complete mission *without* crew, something *none* of the shuttle flights did (or could do until quite recently), essentially due to the Astronauts union. Prior to Shuttle, *all* US programmes managed un-crewed early launches.

I'm not a fan of winged designs but had Buran gone into regular use it *might* have encouraged a V2.0 orbiter project while a fair bit of the production jigs and other equipment were still usable. building something the 2nd time round is *always* easier, especially with the operations experience NASA had accumulated.

Just a thought.

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The Right Stuff vs The Right Way

Id just go for the simple solution,

deduct even more wonga from NASA's budget and give it to the Mars Society. for their Mars Direct project.

Job Done.

http://www.marssociety.org/portal/c/faq#what_is_md

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